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By Michael Norton


STATE HOUSE – Political campaigns are often reluctant to react strongly to public opinion polls, frequently turning to the old adage that the only poll that counts is on election day.

That was not the case Thursday night – less than two weeks before the election – after the release of a Boston Globe/SocialSphere poll showing Republican Charlie Baker with a nine-point lead over Democrat Martha Coakley in the race to succeed Gov. Deval Patrick.

The phone survey of 500 likely Massachusetts voters was conducted between Oct. 19 and Oct. 22 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. The Globe “typically surveys 400 voters a week on the governor’s race but this week added an extra 100 interviews to broaden the scope of the survey,” the newspaper reported.

SocialSphere pollster John Della Volpe told the Globe, “There is just positive movement in every single metric we can ask around Baker.”

Within hours of the poll’s release, Doug Rubin, the political advisor who helped Patrick win the governor’s office in 2006 and is now working for Coakley, issued a statement saying the poll was “clearly an outlier.” He pointed to polls taken recently that showed the race to be a dead heat, including the Coakley campaign’s polling this week and a WBUR poll Wednesday that had Baker up on Coakley by one point.

“In addition, the Globe poll is the only public poll to show such intense volatility in the race for Governor, going from Baker up 3 three weeks ago to Coakley up 5 two weeks ago, to even last week and Baker up 9 this week. Every other public poll has shown a very stable campaign with very little movement over the past month,” Rubin said in a statement. “It’s been clear for a while that many insiders are trying to spin a story about the Baker campaign having momentum, and they no doubt will use the results of this outlier poll to continue to spin the media.”

Then, before 11 p.m. Thursday, a super PAC aligned with Democrats that has targeted Baker during the campaign released a memo from its pollster Quinlan Rosner Research, which surveyed 611 likely voters between Oct. 20 and Oct. 22, and found the race “essentially tied,” with a one-point Coakley advantage within the poll’s margin of error. Veteran Massachusetts Democratic consultant Steve Crawford released those poll results for the Massachusetts Independent Expenditure PAC.

The Baker camp was quick with its comment after the Globe/SocialSphere poll results were released, showing Baker ahead 45-36.

“This latest poll further evidences a clear trend of growing bipartisan support for Charlie Baker,” said Baker campaign manager Jim Conroy. “Charlie’s honest and positive message of good jobs, great schools and an accountable, fiscally responsible state government is presenting a clear contrast with the Attorney General’s campaign based on misleading negative attacks and plans to increase taxes.”

Coakley plans to join Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. senator and secretary of state and potential 2016 candidate for president, for a campaign rally in Boston Friday.

Baker on Friday plans to visit the Palmer Police Station at 3 p.m., Wing Memorial Hospital in Palmer at 4 p.m., and speak at an El Mundo event at 6:30 p.m. at Northeastern University in Boston.

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